This recipe is the Pan Fried Okra from my childhood remade into a healthier option.
The okra from my childhood was double battered after being dipped in an egg wash then deep fried in vegetable oil. Did I mention I was from the South? Or it was boiled into submission with an extra dash of the meat grease that was kept above the stove for flavor. Yikes! Needless to say, I was not an okra fan. However, I have developed a taste for pan fried okra as an adult and nothing could possible surprise me more than the fact that my kids love it. Weird, huh?
What makes this recipe work is the quality of the ingredients. The okra we eat now comes via the Savannah Food Co-op or the Forsyth Farmer’s Market from local Ozzie Mack Farms. So by the time it is on my table, it is only a day or two from the farm. If you have never had okra this fresh, you should try it. It will really make you rethink the grocery store variety. I’ve also swapped the vegetable oil for olive oil and always use organic yellow corn meal. Organic yellow corn meal tends toward a courser texture than other corn meals. And it tastes more like corn – that seems like an important quality in corn meal. Make sure to use the largest skillet you own. It works best if the okra is as close to one layer as possible.
If you like the idea of remade southern classics – check out the Summer Squash Gratin, which was inspired by good ‘ole squash casserole.
- 1 quart okra
- 2 tbsp yellow cornmeal
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/2 tsp pepper or to taste
Prepare okra by trimming both ends and discarding. Cut okra into bite size pieces. Put into a bowl.
Heat 6 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet. Oil should just cover the bottom of the skillet. You may need a little more or less olive oil depending on the size of your skillet.
While oil is heating, sprinkle salt, pepper and cornmeal over the prepared okra. Gently toss to coat all of the okra.
Use a slotted spoon to move coated okra to the hot oil. (If you just dump the bowl, you run the risk of dumping any extra meal at the bottom of the bowl into the oil and it may burn.) Make sure the okra is in one layer. If you have more okra than your pan will hold in one layer, cook it in two batches.
Leave the okra to sizzle in the oil without stirring until it becomes golden on bottom (test a couple of pieces at a time to check color). When the okra becomes golden on the bottom, either flip the okra in the pan (if you have mastered this move!) or use a large spatula to turn okra over to the other side and continue cooking. The less you touch the okra, the crunchier the texture will be. If you stir the okra too much it will become mushy. The entire cooking time should be around 8 minutes.